CNN host John Berman responded to Friday’s attacks on two New Zealand mosques by focusing on President Donald Trump’s language.
During a segment of CNN’s “New Day,” Berman hosted Illinois Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger in the wake of the attacks that left at least 49 people dead and dozens injured.
Trump tweeted his condolences to New Zealand on Friday morning, and the White House condemned the terrorist attacks.
However, Berman was focused on linking Trump to the Christchurch massacre, citing a manifesto in which the suspected gunman briefly mentioned the president.
“You ask for God to change people’s hearts,” the CNN host said to Kinzinger. “I have a question for you: Does God need to change people’s language?
“And I ask you that because this killer, apparently, in a screed, some people call it a manifesto, said he is a supporter of President Trump as a ‘symbol of white identity.’ Why would anyone see the president as a symbol of white identity?”
Kinzinger sought to stop Berman from going down the road of blaming the president for the attacks.
“I think God needs to change people’s hearts, and I bet he does,” the congressman replied. “He needs to change their language. But you cannot put this on President Trump.”
Berman claimed he wasn’t trying to do so.
“I’m not putting this on President Trump,” he said. “There is a one man who pulled the trigger here. OK? The person who is giving a sign of allegiance to President Trump is the killer here. He calls him a ‘symbol of white identity.'”
However, Berman then returned to his quest for connections between Trump’s language and mass shootings.
“The language he uses in this manifesto is all about invaders,” the CNN host said. “It is all about invaders, which is similar language to the killer at the synagogue in Pittsburgh. It’s also language President Trump used in a campaign ad before the midterm election. The word invader means something to white supremacists around the world. Why?”
Kinzinger again insisted Berman was seeking connections that do not exist.
“I don’t know what a sick man that would decide to kill 49 people innocently was thinking,” he said. “I don’t want to have any idea what was in his mind. I know this. It cannot be connected. We cannot say what is it President Trump is doing that is somehow triggering these people?
“This is an evil man that made a decision to murder 49 people. And that is on him and, frankly, the evil in his heart.”
Berman then said it was important that one word in the manifesto’s title — “replacement” — was also used by white supremacist marchers in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, whom he tried to link to the president.
Kinzinger reminded Berman that hate pre-dates Trump’s political rise.
“I’m not defending all of the president’s language on this stuff,” the congressman said. “What I am saying, though, is if you look at the Holocaust where 6 million Jews were killed and Hitler basically brought a whole group of people into evil thinking to do what they did, that was way before President Trump.
“This hate for people, whether it’s a religion or whether it’s race, has been with us since the beginning of humanity. This person, this disgusting animal, is evil. If President Trump’s language triggered him, that wasn’t intentional, that wasn’t President Trump triggering. This is a disgusting person that frankly deserves, I think, to die.”
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